Starving for Wisdom — 7 Takeaways No. 79


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1. “There will always be something that you kinda suck at”

3 Principles for a Better Life – Mark Manson – (Mindf*ck Monthly newsletter)

The takeaway above is an instance of a larger, more important concept, Manson’s principle number 1:

You are perfect just as you are… but you can always be better.

One one hand perfection and being better seem in conflict with one another. And yet, self acceptance and self-improvement are inexorably intertwined. You can’t really be effective at either without the other.

Do this: The other principles are also worth reflecting on: “Most people aren’t evil, they’re just stupid. This includes ourselves.” and “A little bit of truth exists in everything; but the whole truth in nothing.”

2. “Cognitively and emotionally invigorating”

Can one be Both Frail and Sturdy in Advanced Aging? – Doris Carnevali – (Engaging With Aging blog)

I love my 100-year-old blogger. She’s an example of growing old gracefully and pragmatically.

The item that caught my attention in this blog post is simply this:

The one area that hasn’t changed is my blog writing. I spend hours each day pondering ideas and writing/reworking blog pieces. It’s cognitively and emotionally invigorating.

It’s one reason I love my career, and plan to stay as active as possible within it as long as possible.

Do this: Consider: what invigorates you?

3. “I am, in fact, a person.”

Google’s AI Isn’t Sentient, But It Is Biased and Terrible – Janus Rose – (Motherboard / Vice)

A not unreasonable overview of the kerfuffle that happened a week ago when a Google engineer claimed their LaMDA AI has achieved sentience. It hadn’t, at least in the opinion of many, and won’t for a long time. However, the simulation it presents can be eerily human-like, and that’s only going to get better. When will it cross the line?

What does the line even look like? I’m not hearing anyone with a rigorous definition of what it means to be self-aware, anyway. That’s something that’s already been debated for millennia.

The concern expressed is that this is taking attention from the larger issue: regardless of whether it’s sentient, how’s it being used, and who’s in control?

Do this: Remember that computers, AI, and machine-learning are just machines and concepts programmed by humans.

4. “Eating a credit card’s worth of microplastics”

Are You Eating a Credit Card Every Week? – VLogBrothers – (YouTube)

This one took me by surprise. Apparently there’s a news story circulating right now, in legitimate news sources, no less, that we’re all eating five grams — a credit card’s worth — of microplastics every day.

No, we’re not.

But the eleven-step process of how we got to legitimate news media you would normally trust to have done the right thing publishing this error is fascinating. And, yes, they did the right thing (fact check). Even so, here we are. It’s a story of how easy it is to get things wrong, even with the best of intentions.

Do this: Be skeptical, of course, but understand that you might still be wrong.

5. “Surrounded by knowledge, yet starving for wisdom”

Building a Second Brain – Tiago Forte – (ebook)

Forte’s seeing a lot of popularity in the note taking and knowledge management space. This book (I’m about 20% through) is his recipe for creating a note taking system. That doesn’t do it justice, however. It’s more an intentional system, with specific approaches and techniques to build a body of information that you can then actually refer to and use, not for rote memorization (as school seems to have taught us to do), but as a generative tool for ideation and reference.

Interestingly it’s not about a specific tool — any of several popular tools can be used — but rather focuses on how to train yourself to use the tool to your purposes.

When something resonates with us, it is our emotion-based, intuitive mind telling us it is interesting before our logical mind can explain why.

Do this: Consider how you remember what you consume and how — or even if — you can refer to it again later.

6. “An accumulation of facts does not always lead to comprehension.”

Dune: The Machine Crusade – Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson – (ebook)

The Dune prequel books about the battle against technology and specifically AI — fundamental to that universe’s eventual evolution — contain many quotable concepts that apply to current events. The above, extremely coincidentally (if one believes in coincidence), follows the previous takeaway nicely.

Another that resonates with current events:

Humans love to engage in name-calling, since it enables them to categorize an adversary … which invariably involves dehumanizing an opponent.

This is something I think we see, if not take part in, almost daily of late.

Do this: Watch your categorization of others.

7. “The goal should be to get kinder”

35 Lessons on the Way to 35 Years Old – Ryan Holiday – (Blog)

I’m a sucker for these kinds of lists. Holiday’s wanders through a variety topics. Not unexpectedly he draws several from Stoic wisdom. This one, though, is something I aspire to myself. It takes issue with an adage about how we “should” be becoming more conservative as we age.

The goal should be to get kinder, more compassionate, more empathetic as you go.

At all ages. Always.

(As an aside, I have my own list in the works for my upcoming 65th.)

Do this: Be kind.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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